On my way to work this morning, I felt like this:
On my bike ride home, I felt more like this:
Let me explain.
- I usually bike the Custis Trail to Ballston then take surface streets to work, then the reverse on my way home. Because I didn’t do any riding this weekend, I decided to take the Custis the entire way, because it is hillier, and thus a bit more challenging.
- Because I knew it would be hot and sticky, and that I would shower at work, I wore shorts, my favorite moisture-wicking tee shirt, and sporty shoes.
- I don’t know how else to explain it, but dressed down, cruising up and down the hills on the trail, and picking up some decent speed, made me feel like a boy. I felt tough, aggressive, strong… on a powder blue “sit up and beg” bike with Dutch pullback handles. It doesn’t matter what I looked like, it is what I felt like. And I liked it. I like the speed, I like the toughness, I love standing on the pedals as I bounce over the rough asphalt. This is why I think I will like mountain biking, even if I tackle it slowly and cautiously. Once I get comfortable, I’m free to be tough. And feel like a boy. Why is it that being “tough” and dirty equals acting like a boy?
- Because it was hot and sticky, I rode my usual commute home, so I would have a kinder, gentler ride.
- I left my business clothes on, as I usually do after work. I see no reason to change – either I’m going straight home, where I will change anyway, or I’m going out, and I want to look nice.
- As I pulled up to one traffic light, I noticed another woman on her bike slightly ahead of me. She was riding a cute vintage looking white bicycle; I never got close enough to see what brand. I’m guessing an Electra. Matching fenders and rack, with what looked like the Ballard Market Pannier. She was also wearing a short black skirt and a cute ruffled white top, and ballet flats. Her helmet looked like one of the cute Nutcase “Street” helmets, with an all-over pattern, but again, I didn’t get a good look.
- As I passed her, I caught myself eying her the same way women eye each other in bars, in stores, in restaurants, everywhere. Comparing what she was wearing (and riding) to what I was wearing (and riding). If you don’t know what I mean, ask a woman. Women always seem to compare themselves, and in fact, dress more for each other than for men (as if men will be able to tell where our clothes, shoes, and purses come from, duh!). It totally made me think of the 1939 movie “The Women.”*
I laughed at myself – such a complex personality ride for a short 9-mile RT commute! Very Dick (if he was into mountain biking) and Jane (all girl) – if that is an appropriate bipolar comparison. Jekyll & Hyde didn’t seem right, since it’s not good versus evil, or even two personalities of someone of the same sex. I’m not the only woman to have this dual personality, am I?!
Maybe it’s not feminist enough, but I like being able to label one part of me “boyish” and another part of me “girlie.” I’m not a tomboy, although I did like climbing trees as a kid, and like hiking and so on. But I’m also not one of those women who refuses to leave the house without a full face of makeup. I think it is okay to straddle both worlds – I do the same with other things as well. I’m creative but love structure; I need some repetition but get bored easily. I love short skirts, and clunky boots. Short hair and lots of jewelry. And so on…
Maybe this is why I’m trying to combine my two sides with bicycle fashion – sporty yet stylish. And all me!
*If you haven’t seen the movie, I strongly recommend it. It’s all about men, without a single man in the movie. It’s all about women being catty to each other, and learning about themselves. All while wearing Jungle Red nail polish. Brilliant!